FreeNAS Mini XL+ Power Consumption
Power consumption is a big deal in homes and in offices, especially those with high power and air conditioning costs. The FreeNAS Mini XL+ is designed around a low power Atom C3758 SoC, but it also has four fans, a baseboard management controller, and a 10Gbase-T PHY which use a lot of power. We are using 120V power and our Extech TrueRMS Power Analyzer 380803 to measure power consumption. Here is what we saw:
- Idle L2ARC + ZIL SSDs: 33.6W
- Idle L2ARC + ZIL SSDs + 8x WD Red 4TB: 66.8W
- Load: 101.4W
- Maximum observed: 117.3W
Overall, this was great. As you can see, the base system including OS boot media, the L2ARC, and ZIL SSDs was under 34W idle. Beyond that base, the major power consumption drivers are the hard drives. Since there are eight of these devices, we suggest looking at which hard drives you are using.
FreeNAS Mini XL+ Noise
iXsystems claims the Mini XL+ is ultra-quiet. That is important. Desktop NAS units are designed to operate in offices, retail locations, and homes where people are nearby. Fans are great for cooling, but nobody wants to hear them.
Even with adding additional fans, the FreeNAS Mini XL+ did a great job limiting fan noise. We have seen the CPU cooler that is on the system make more noise than the entire Mini XL+ system on standard Supermicro A2SDi boards. It is fairly clear that the iXsystems team did some fan and acoustic tuning. To give some perspective, the FreeNAS Mini XL+ makes the HPE ProLiant ML110 Gen10, HPE’s quiet remote branch office tower server, sound like a jet engine.
The biggest noise in our unit was actually the array of eight hard drives. When they were under heavy load, they generated noise. Helium-filled hard drives tend to issue less noise than our 4TB air-filled WD Red 4TB drives. We highly suggest using Helium-filled drives with the FreeNAS Mini XL+.
The FreeNAS Mini XL+ is a well-designed machine. Let us not mince words here. You can build your own FreeNAS 8-bay NAS, and potentially at a lower price. The FreeNAS Mini XL+ is the option to get a system that already has everything selected, assembled, and tuned out of the box. Pretending that does not have value is probably what many commentators will opine but that is simply not the case. Extra effort is invested in development and there are tangible benefits. Cooling is a great example of this. Even the ability to buy the fully configured unit off of Amazon for quick delivery is valuable to someone who needs a unit at a remote branch office tomorrow.
Compared to consumer NAS units, one needs to take one of two views. There is still an ease-of-use gap between FreeNAS and consumer NAS units. FreeNAS still requires more storage knowledge, even if it is not CLI knowledge than consumer offerings. The other view is that the FreeNAS Mini XL+ has management features (e.g. IPMI) and hardware features (e.g. ECC RDIMM support) that are beyond what the consumer NAS offerings support. For an IT admin supporting several remote branch offices, deploying hardware that can be managed like a server is a big benefit. TrueCommand is the next step in managing fleets of FreeNAS devices across sites.
Overall, the unit is well put together. In 2019, an 8-bay NAS needs 10GbE and the updated Intel Atom C3758 provides a lot more compute power in a lower power footprint. Delivering on these means that iXsystems delivered a big upgrade with the FreeNAS Mini XL+.